I just read Zappos is struggling with Holacracy because humans aren’t designed to operate like software. I'm not surprised. That's because we are humans who work with other human people. I want to talk with people when I want to talk with them, not when some protocol tells me I must.
It's the same problem when managers talk about “resources” and “FTEs” (full-time equivalents). I don't know about you. I work with resourceful humans. I work with people, regardless of how much time they work at work.
If the person I need isn't there, I have some choices:
- I can cc the “other” person(s) and create a ton of email
- I can ask multiple people and run the risk of multiple people doing the same work (and adding to waste)
- I can do it myself—or try to—and not finish other work I have that's more important.
There are other options, but those are the options I see most often.
We each have unique skills and capabilities. I am not fond of experts working alone. And, I want to know with whom I can build trust, and who will build trust with me.
We build relationships with humans. (Okay, I do yell at my computer, but that's a one-sided relationship.) We build relationships because we talk with each other:
- Just before and just after meetings. This is the “how are the kids? how was the wedding? how was the weekend?” kind of conversation.
- When we work with each other and explain what we mean.
- When we extend trust and we provide deliverables to build trust.
When we talk with each other, we build relationships. We build trust. (Some of us prefer to talk with one person at a time, and some of us like to speak with more. But we talk together.) That discussion and trust-building allows us to work together.
This relationship-building is one of the problems of geographically distributed teams not feeling like teams. The feelings might be missing in a collocated team, too. Standups work because they are about micro-commitments to each other. (Not to the work, to each other as humans.)
I'm a Spock-kind of person, I admit. I work to build human relationships with colleagues. I work at these relationships because the results are worth it to me. Some of you might start with the people first, and you will build relationships because you like people. I'm okay with that 🙂
We work with people we like, respect and trust. Once we break that respect and trust, it's impossible to work together.
Even I, who is a Spock-like person, knows I am a human first. That means I have emotions and I can't put them away at work. I don't want to! Let's celebrate our humanity and learn how to work together.